Wanna hang out?
I was growing up in a huge monstrosity of a city called Moscow, therefore ironically was used to small distances. My district was self-sufficient, cause otherwise it wouldn’t function. It had schools, kindergartens, shops of all sorts, small local malls, playgrounds, too many churches and way too many factories. You could probably even find a couple of shitty museums if you look closely.
The rest of Moscow was hidden in the grownup future.
Due to my quite self-sufficient nature, all of my best friends were my classmates. We would spend days fooling around in school and then walking through our dull monstrosity for hours. I remember during winters going to the shittiest shop possible called “The Pearl”. It had the shittiest possible coffee-machine inside with surprisingly okay coffee. My best friend always took hot chocolate and I bought green tea with lemon (a.k.a. nasty lemon-smelling liquid). He used to tease me about taking the only coffee-free drink in the coffee machine until I told him, that hot chocolate is not full of coffee either. Though, probably, I am biased and those drinks were as shitty as their surroundings, but the feeling of a hot plastic cup in my hand and the sight of steam going up into the gray-ish sky were worthy of every ruble.
My point is there was no meaning to these Pearl crusades. We spent hours together, never justifying why, doing dorky things, talking and killing time.
- Wanna hang out?
- Sure, will be there in 10 mins.
If you at least mildly like a person, there’s no possible reason to refuse. To be honest, even if you didn’t enjoy a person at all, sometimes it seemed like there’s no reason to refuse either. Meeting is free and quick, so why the hell not? Like taking a pill you don’t really need, but it’s side-affects free, so…
When my classmate-friends disappeared in the past, “The Pearl” became one of many chain-stores (on average not the shittiest) and coffee-machine was replaced by the ATM, I felt ripped apart. My new best friend lived far away, meaning the dialogue would change to:
- Wanna hang out?
- Sure, will be there in 1,5 hours.
We met in center, reducing the distance for both of us, always visiting some places or sitting in various Starbuckses. The time of unjustifiable communication was over. Therefore communication has been reduced to once a week. Every Saturday. I was waiting for these Saturdays to come and wanted them to last longer. From the whole self-sufficient world my district turned into a cage.
Once I started studying in city center, one hour travel became a routine. Wanna meet your friends? Cool! Walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, sit through a 7-minute bus drive (if there’s no traffic and you are lucky!), go to the metro station, be pushed into the carriage, suffer for 30 more minutes, change the line, change the line, escalator (always too slow), go from the metro to your Lyceum. Hey, there are your friends! Don’t forget to repeat the whole act to get home!
And at some point, while sitting, standing, being pushed into a cubical, you start evaluating people you are close with. Do I even like my friends? Are they worthy of my suffering?
That’s what gets me about distances. Most of the days I put on headphones and collapse into the unknown, not caring that much about it, but once in a while I start questioning the meaning of where I’m heading. And there’s something really frustrating in this evaluation.
I like just being together, co-existing, sometimes doing something fun, sometimes just lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling in silence, reading different books together, occasionally sharing good quotes. I do think, that if you are enjoying your time together, it is fine to not always have a grand event plan (let’s watch a movie, let’s go to that lecture, let’s visit this museum etc).
But every time I remember lying in bed in the dark room, almost crying, because there was nothing left in me to go to the bus stop, to push my way through in metro, to get old on the escalator. And I feel guilty asking my friends to meet. Did they have this evaluation inner dialogue today? Did I pass? Am I entertaining enough? Am I important enough?
Distance makes your feelings shamelessly obvious, makes you feel dependent on those close to you therefore vulnerable. If everyone you like are around, affection is overlooked and dissolved in the convenience. If not, you start awkwardly making up excuses to meet, forgetting, that there’s nothing wrong with just wanting to meet someone. There’s nothing stupid or weak about it. And, I think, it’s important to confess to yourself at some point, that you simply like the person and want to hang out, talk and drink shitty lemon-liquid just because. And hope, that on most of the days, you are worthy of it too.